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Retained Swab Causing Episiotomy Breakdown

Leaving a swab inside a patient is considered a 'never event', meaning it should never happen in a healthcare environment. A retained swab is therefore negligent and cannot be defended. If this has happened to you, causing your episiotomy or perineal injuries to breakdown, you will be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you have been caused.

The effect of a retained swab on an episiotomy

During a vaginal delivery, the obstetrics team will use a number of swabs to absorb blood and other fluids. Once the baby and the placenta have been safely delivered, a swab count should be completed to ensure all the swabs used can be accounted for. Nothing should be left inside the mother's body, and all foreign objects must be removed before her perineal injuries are sutured.

Nevertheless, retained swabs do unfortunately occur. Over the past 25 years we have sadly seen numerous cases of new mothers being sent home with a swab still inside their vagina. This will quickly lead to an infection, a problem made evident by a smelly vaginal discharge. Although an infection such as this can be easily treated with a course of antibiotics, it is possible that it will cause impaired healing of any perineal wounds.

Indeed, episiotomy scars and perineal injuries sustained during childbirth more often than not heal without incident. The probability of correct healing is reduced in the presence of a foreign body. Not only will the recovery period be prolonged, it is possible that the scar will be defective and tender. This could result in long-term discomfort particularly with regard to the perineum rubbing against underwear and pain during sex. It is also likely that a woman will be unhappy with the aesthetic appearance. If such complications do arise, the perineal scarring may need to be revised.

Compensation for a retained swab

If a swab has been left inside your body, you will be the victim of medical negligence. This means you could be entitled to claim compensation for the pain and suffering you have wrongfully experienced. However, this sum of compensation will be considerably increased if a retained swab has delayed and disrupted the healing of your perineal injuries after childbirth especially if it eventually led to the misalignment of your perineum.

If this has happened to you, you should not delay in speaking to a legal expert. A medical negligence solicitor will happily provide you with more information, helping you to understand whether you have the grounds to claim compensation for a retained swab.

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